My resume

I’ve worked for large dance companies, medium sized dance companies and a lot of small independent dance groups.  Working with an independent group gives you the freedom to step outside of the established parameters of larger companies – kind of like a paid vacation.  Many of the independent groups were emerging choreographers who either hired professional dancers to create an ad hoc performing group or they formed a small core of dancers that they occasionally supplemented with other professional dancers.  A good portion of the time, the “hired help” had more professional experience and superior technical skills to the core group.  It was and is a practice that has its upsides and downsides.  Upside – for the choreographer – because snagging a high caliber dancer boosts their profile within the dance community.  Downside – for the core group – who have been toiling endless hours for the choreographer – then he goes and hires someone else that he will feature and give all the glory to.    I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I can’t say that I was overly pleased with the practice.  When I was part of the core group, I resented the “big names” that were brought in to perform with us.  We were the ones that did most of the work – for little pay I might add – and they were the ones who were going to receive all the accolades and the big paycheck.  When hired as one of the “big names”, I felt guilty for doing to the core group what others had done to me.  Call me an unrealistic dreamer but I always wanted the hard work and professional prowess to be the criteria.  I’m also not big on pretensions.  I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve seen a “has been” professional dancer destroying a good production by riding on their past accomplishments.  I really don’t care who you are or who you’ve worked with – if you are not contributing at this moment in time – what good are you?  As a result – I didn’t always make it easy for the poor idiot who hired me.

One particular Montreal choreographer hired all of his dancers based solely on their professional profiles, figuring (rightly) that our impressive biographies would add to his own reputation.  The result was a mix of kick-ass dancers who had no artistic or technical commonalities.  What should have been an easy job soon turned into a nightmare of endless rehearsal hours as we struggled to form a cohesive group.  The choreographer was oblivious to the chaos that he had created.  Our big names were going to make him an instant success.  When it came to submitting our biographies for the performance program, I decided to throw a wrench into the situation.  This is the biography that I submitted:

Debbie Wilson started dancing at the age of four and joined a ballet company in Cincinnati at the age of twelve.  She quit and moved to NYC.  She quit dancing.  She started dancing again with the Ohio company.  She quit dancing again.  She had brief encounters with a modern dance company and a repertory theatre.  She started dancing again – with the Ohio Company.  She quit ballet permanently and moved to NYC where she joined a musical theatre company.  She quit the NYC company and dabbled in teaching for several NYC schools and one in Connecticut.  She moved to Montreal and joined a jazz company and after four years on the road, quit and started working for a modern company and teaching in Montreal.

The choreographer wasn’t amused.  I did eventually give him a proper biography.  Since that time, I always kept an updated version of this biography near my desk.

Debbie Wilson started dancing at the age of four and joined a ballet company in Cincinnati at the age of twelve.  She quit and moved to NYC.  She quit dancing.  She started dancing again with the Ohio company.  She quit dancing again.  She had brief encounters with a modern dance company and a repertory theatre.  She started dancing again – with the Ohio Company.  She quit ballet permanently and moved to NYC where she joined a musical theatre company.  She quit the NYC company and dabbled in teaching for several NYC schools and one in Connecticut.  She moved to Montreal and joined a jazz company and after four years on the road, quit and started working for a modern company and teaching in Montreal.  The modern company stopped working.  She joined the jazz company again.  She quit again and returned to teaching.  She moved to Vancouver to work with a modern company.  She hated Vancouver so she quit.  She moved to Toronto and became an independent artist, working with modern and contemporary companies.  When she couldn’t be the best, she quit dance permanently.  Now she runs her own company, which makes quitting quite difficult.

It reminds me to keep things in perspective – and – that many of my life choices are a result of my personality.  I am curious, always seeking knowledge, will usually go in the opposite direction of the crowd and get easily bored.  If I know what the future is bringing – I’m pretty much done with it.  Several friends of mine have stayed in the same dance company their entire professional life.  While I admire their dedication – I really couldn’t do it.  Doing the same dances with the same group of people over and over and over?  Wow – somebody shoot me.  As a post script – I did eventually close my company after fifteen years – it got too predictable and I needed to find a new adventure

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